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Community survey highlights future options for Rhododendron posted on 07/30/2020

A recent community-wide online survey for the “Rhododendron Main Street Site Redevelopment Plan” revealed a community desire for safer highway conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in the proposed development area, as well as an interest in improving the appearance of the site from the highway.

The survey was conducted from May 28 through June 19 by Clackamas County, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) and the MIG consultant team.

“We got fairly good turnout for an online survey,” said Scott Hoelscher, Senior Planner for Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development.

There were a total of 116 survey participants with 57 percent of respondents indicating that they are part time/seasonal residents. 17 percent of survey participants were year-round residents and 9 percent own businesses in the community.

The survey results will be used by the consultant team to develop three design alternatives to guide redevelopment of the project area. The proposed site for redevelopment consists of two privately held properties on the southwest side of Hwy. 26 totaling 3.73 acres. The properties are across from Mount Hood Foods and the Rhododendron Post Office.

Publicly owned lands adjacent to the Rhododendron Swinging Bridge and the Rhododendron Community Landscape at the Barlow Trail Oregon Historic Marker are also included in the project area.

The survey was one of several methods for collecting input from the community including an online virtual tour of the site. Additional opportunities for community input to refine the preferred concept will occur during the following months.

“An interest in streetscape frontage redesign and safe crossing of Hwy. 26 stood out to me,” Hoelscher said about community input gathered from the survey.

76 percent of respondents chose “Providing safer conditions for walking and biking” as the top opportunity for the redevelopment from the survey options. This was followed by 62 percent of participants choosing improving appearance along the highway as a focus for the project.

Survey respondents chose unsafe biking/walking conditions or crossings, highway traffic, speed or noise and the appearance or condition of businesses as the top challenges the community faces while planning the project.

When asked about types of new residential uses for the site, townhomes had the highest positive response followed by condos or townhomes with office uses or commercial spaces on the ground floor.

Themes expressed by write-in responses include maintaining a forested, cabin identity for the community and ensuring consistent design of new development. Some respondents voiced opposition to the development citing concern over change to the rural nature of the community or the small site size being unable to support development without increased traffic issues and strain on existing infrastructure.

Respondents also suggested the design team consider increased traffic impacts and affordability/displacement in the community.

“I’m pleased with the feedback from the survey,” said Steve Graeper, Rhododendron Community Planning Organization (CPO) board president, in a written response. “Comments were as expected, most of them favorable.”

“We’re going to use this input to move to the next stage of developing three conceptual design alternatives,” Hoelscher said.

The original timeline for the project called for the completion of the design process during the summer of 2020.

“That timeline was pretty aggressive,” Hoelscher said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a major factor in slowing the timeline for the redevelopment project. “We’re not going to complete (the design alternatives) this summer.”

More information on the project is available at:

https://www.clackamas.us/engineering/rhododendron-main-street-redevelopment-plan.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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